Chapter 37 – And Last
One month later.
Tia stood in her Cairo apartment and looked around carefully. She'd given away most of her possessions, only keeping some clothes and those things most important to her. Everything was packed and ready to go. She picked up the newspaper sitting on the table and reread the story.
American Woman Found in the Desert.
Tia DeWitt, an American citizen was found last week in the desert near Luxor. She had been a member of an archeological team that had been investigating an ancient burial site. Nomadic tribesmen had attacked their team, and the other members of the party were killed. Miss DeWitt survived the attack and lived alone in the desert for some weeks until rescued by noted Egyptologists Evelyn and Richard O'Connell, whom were themselves scouting out a possible excavation site. The O'Connells conveyed Miss DeWitt to Cairo. Unfortunately, she was unable to provide any details about the identity of the particular tribe who attacked the group. Egyptian authorities have declared that because of the attack, the area is considered unsafe, and further explorations of that region are forbidden until further notice. We are pleased to report that Miss DeWitt is unharmed and in good health following her ordeal. She is quoted as saying she was extremely fortunate that the team's supplies were enough to see her through until rescue."
She smiled in amusement. It wasn't completely a lie. She set the newspaper down again and glanced at a second one, dated a week previously. "In a hitherto undiscovered annex in the tomb of Ramses the Great, Sir Randolph Varne, an English nobleman, was discovered dead of an apparent suicide. According to Varne's servants, Sir Randolph had been acting oddly for several weeks before his disappearance. Sir Randolph's heir, his son Robert, is quoted as saying he will be selling his father's holdings in Egypt and returning permanently to Great Britain."
Tia looked at her watch. Nearly time to go.
As she waited, her mind traveled back to the excavation site at Tirza. She, Ardeth, Rick and Evie had gone there after leaving the O'Connell's dig site on the west bank of Thebes. They'd uncovered the stone door of the tomb again, and had entered it. The sight had reduced Tia to tears. It was a small tomb, barely ten feet square, and the decorations were sparse. There was only the minimum of funerary products. The two sarcophaguses stood on either side of the doorway. Canopic jars made from painted clay stood in niches above the coffins. A statue of Bes, the dwarf god of midwives and children stood looking down from a stone pedestal.
The coffin on the right was smaller than the other one. Carefully the four of them opened the coffin and exposed the mummy within. Evie delicately removed the wrappings around the mummy's face to expose the mouth, which was tightly closed. As the others watched, Tia picked up a small adze, – iron, for the metal of heaven - and inserted it in the mouth. Gently she pried the mouth open as Evie chanted in ancient Egyptian. "Awake! May you be alert as a living one, rejuvenated every day, healthy in millions of occasions of god sleep, while the gods protect you, protection being around you every day." The chant was repeated an additional three times, for Horus – the falcon headed god, Seth – god of storms, death, evil and chaos, and Thoth – god of knowledge and secrets.
Immediately, Tia felt a sense of relief and completion. She would no more be troubled by dreams of a small boy with beseeching eyes. The soul of Horemheb was free. It would take flight during the day and travel the world as it saw fit, and at night it would return to the body of the small child. Or perhaps, the soul would join with a new body and live again.
Tia and Evie exchanged warm smiles, and Evie carefully rewrapped the mummy's face. Rick and Ardeth maneuvered the heavy coffin lid back on. It was done.
Tia stood for a moment, idly running her hand over the sarcophagus. So much had happened! Evie came up behind her. "Here," she said. "Take these."
The American girl turned around to see the other woman holding out a pair of earrings. Tia picked them up. "I recognize these," she said slowly, fingering the lapis stones set in gold. "They were my favorite. I was wearing them when Imhotep abducted me. And I was wearing them when I died."
Evie smiled. "I had them buried with you. Take them. For remembrance."
In the apartment in Cairo, Tia reached up and fingered the earrings. She'd worn them often since then. It was silly, she knew, to wear something so valuable. Still, she couldn't resist. They were indeed for remembrance. She could set aside the terrified girl who'd been abused and murdered, and remember the pretty, gentle princess who'd lived contentedly in her father's palace – playing music, listening to poets and amusing the young children. Rest in peace, Tiye.
The dreams of a sad and beseeching Horemheb had ceased, as she'd thought they would. She'd dreamed once since, of a laughing, playing child with mischievous eyes. Her hand crept to her stomach. Perhaps it was too soon to be sure, but she had a feeling.
The sound of footsteps on the stairs outside her door brought her out of her reverie. The door opened to reveal the tall, handsome Medjai warrior with the symbols of Ma'at on his face. "Are you ready to go?" Ardeth asked.
"Yes," she said, smiling warmly at her lover. "I'm ready to go home."
Whew! Completely finished. Hope everyone enjoyed it. Thank you very much lilylynn, Lometari and ephona, who reviewed more than anyone else. mrsblonde1503, tellergirl and Nakhti also reviewed several times, and LalaithCat, scarlett witch, Shahrezad1, Momints, Liel, eris, Satiana, Mistress of Mordor and dshael chimed in more than once. Thanks are also due those who only reviewed once – I hope they continued to read. I enjoyed writing the story, but it's the reviews that kept my ego stroked enough to keep going. I'm kicking around ideas for a sequel. When and if I get it going I'll let you know.